What is the Gospel? (Pt. 13) – “Obedience is Greater than Sacrifice”

This is part of the series “What is the Gospel?”

Jesus’ final admonition to the disciples has been called the Great Commission. Matthew records it this way for us: “19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” [Matthew 28:19-20 NIV]. Jesus said in another place, “And you are my friends, if you obey me” [John 15:14 CEV]. The idea of the word obey is that of a continued process. Jesus is telling us that we are His friends, His faithful servants if “we keep on doing” what He has commanded.

I have often wondered at the meaning of this phrase: Obedience is Greater than Sacrifice. It has not been until now that I understand its meaning. If God makes His will known we are commanded to obey. But what if the result of obedience is death, as it was for Jesus? What will we do then? I think that this is the mystery inherent in the command. God is not asking us to submit to pain, suffering or injustice. God has called us to submit to Him, trusting that the ends that lie outside of my purview will achieve the ultimate will and purposes of God. Sacrifice can be self-serving because it validates us and our motives. But obedience only serves the greater good of the one who commanded us to act. When we obey we are bending our will to that of our King. If we have committed our lives to the service of Jesus, then everything else is just what we do in the line of duty. No more reward will be offered other than the praise of our God, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Is that enough for you?